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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang


There now remained no doubt that Mrs. Claughton had really gone to Meresby, a long and disagreeable journey, and had been locked up in the church alone at a witching hour.

Beyond this point we have only the statements of Mrs. Claughton, made to Lord Bute, Mr. Myers and others, and published by the Society for Psychical Research. She says that after arranging the alarm bell on Monday night (October 9-10) she fell asleep reading in her dressing- gown, lying outside her bed. She wakened, and found the lady of the white shawl bending over her. Mrs. Claughton said: "Am I dreaming, or is it true?" The figure gave, as testimony to character, a piece of information. Next Mrs. Claughton saw a male ghost, "tall, dark, healthy, sixty years old," who named himself as George Howard, buried in Meresby churchyard, Meresby being a place of which Mrs. Claughton, like most people, now heard for the first time. He gave the dates of his marriage and death, which are correct, and have been seen by Mr. Myers in Mrs. Claughton's note-book. He bade her verify these dates at Meresby, and wait at 1.15 in the morning at the grave of Richard Harte (a person, like all of them, unknown to Mrs. Claughton) at the south-west corner of the south aisle in Meresby Church. This Mr. Harte died on 15th May, 1745, and missed many events of interest by doing so. Mr. Howard also named and described Joseph Wright, of Meresby, as a man who would help her, and he gave minute local information. Next came a phantom of a man whose name Mrs. Claughton is not free to give; {182} he seemed to be in great trouble, at first covering his face with his hands, but later removing them. These three spectres were to meet Mrs. Claughton in Meresby Church and give her information of importance on a matter concerning, apparently, the third and only unhappy appearance. After these promises and injunctions the phantoms left, and Mrs. Claughton went to the door to look at the clock. Feeling faint, she rang the alarum, when her friends came and found her in a swoon on the floor. The hour was 1.20.

What Mrs. Claughton's children were doing all this time, and whether they were in the room or not, does not appear.

On Thursday Mrs. Claughton went to town, and her governess was perturbed, as we have seen.

On Friday night Mrs. Claughton _dreamed_ a number of things connected with her journey; a page of the notes made from this dream was shown to Mr. Myers. Thus her half ticket was not to be taken, she was to find a Mr. Francis, concerned in the private affairs of the ghosts, which needed rectifying, and so forth. These premonitions, with others, were all fulfilled. Mrs. Claughton, in the church at night, continued her conversation with the ghosts whose acquaintance she had made at Rapingham. She obtained, it seems, all the information needful to settling the mysterious matters which disturbed the male ghost who hid his face, and on Monday morning she visited the daughter of Mr. Howard in her country house in a park, "recognised the strong likeness to her father, and carried out all things desired by the dead to the full, as had been requested. . . . The wishes expressed to her were perfectly rational, reasonable and of natural importance."

The clerk, Wright, attests the accuracy of Mrs. Claughton's description of Mr. Howard, whom he knew, and the correspondence of her dates with those in the parish register and on the graves, which he found for her at her request. Mr. Myers, "from a very partial knowledge" of what the Meresby ghosts' business was, thinks the reasons for not revealing this matter "entirely sufficient". The ghosts' messages to survivors "effected the intended results," says Mrs. Claughton.